August 3, 2020
Evening Prayer (Vespers)
You may wish to light a candle and place it before you as you begin.
Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome.
Stay with us, Lord, for it is evening, and the day is almost over.
Let your light scatter the darkness and illumine your church.
HYMN: Blest Are They, ELW 728
YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwSkmzw8dY8
A reading from: Isaiah 43: 1-7 (CEB)
43 But now,
says the Lord—
the one who created you, Jacob,
the one who formed you, Israel:
Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
when through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you won’t be scorched
and flame won’t burn you.
3 I am the Lord your God,
the holy one of Israel, your savior.
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your place.
4 Because you are precious in my eyes,
you are honored, and I love you.
I give people in your place,
and nations in exchange for your life.
5 Don’t fear,
I am with you.
From the east I’ll bring your children;
from the west I’ll gather you.
6 I’ll say to the north, “Give them back!”
and to the south, “Don’t detain them.”
Bring my sons from far away,
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7 everyone who is called by my name
and whom I created for my glory,
whom I have formed and made.
Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.
PSALM: Psalm 17: 1-7, 15 (CEB)
17 Listen to what’s right, Lord;
attention to my cry!
Listen closely to my prayer;
spoken by lips that don’t lie!
2 My justice comes from you;
your eyes see what is right!
3 You have examined my heart,
me at night.
You’ve looked me over closely,
haven’t found anything wrong.
mouth doesn’t sin.
4 But these other people’s deeds?
have avoided such violent ways
the command from your lips.
5 My steps are set firmly on your paths;
feet haven’t slipped.
6 I cry out to you because you answer me.
tilt your ears toward me now—
to what I’m saying!
7 Manifest your faithful love in amazing ways
you are the one
saves those who take refuge in you,
them from their attackers
your strong hand.
15 But me? I will see your face in righteousness;
I awake, I will be filled full by seeing your image.
Gospel: Matthew 15: 32-39 (CEB)
A reading from: Matthew
32 Now Jesus called his disciples and said, “I feel sorry for the crowd because they have been with me for three days and have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry for fear they won’t have enough strength to travel.”
33 His disciples replied, “Where are we going to get enough food in this wilderness to satisfy such a big crowd?”
34 Jesus said, “How much bread do you have?”
They responded, “Seven loaves and a few fish.”
35 He told the crowd to sit on the ground. 36 He took the seven loaves of bread and the fish. After he gave thanks, he broke them into pieces and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 Everyone ate until they were full. The disciples collected seven baskets full of leftovers. 38 Four thousand men ate, plus women and children. 39 After dismissing the crowds, Jesus got into the boat and came to the region of Magadan.
Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.
Today’s texts are about compassion, God’s care for God’s children, for us. Isaiah tells us God says:
· Do not be afraid, I am with you.
· You are precious in my eyes.
· I have called you by name; you are mine.
These are the words, the promises, of a God who loves us beyond measure. These are not the words of a God who punishes us for wrongdoing, but the words of someone who cares deeply about us.
The Psalm is a human response to God’s loving care.
· I cry to you because you answer me.
· You save those who take refuge in you.
· When you examine me, you are just.
In the Gospel text, this is the second feeding of a multitude in Matthew. The first time, the disciples spoke first about the people being hungry. This time, Jesus speaks first.
· I feel sorry for these people. Let’s take care of them.
· How much bread do you have?
· Ask the folks to sit down.
As before, everyone ate until they were full, and there were leftovers. As in the feeding of the 5,000, the number referred to just the men, but it was recognized that there were women and children present. So, there were perhaps 8-10,000 people in the crowd. And Jesus fed them all.
I have always been suspicious of such numbers. Maybe it was 40 or 400 men, not 4,000. Exaggeration happens all the time in the ancient world. It makes people and events seem larger than they really were. Truth be told, it still happens today. Have you ever asked a fisher how big the latest catch was? Still, the number of people is not quite the point.
First, the miracle is the point: In order to silence those who insist that the miracle was in everyone sharing what they had, this text makes it clear that the people were out of food. After three days, there was nothing left to share. This story makes it clear that the feeding of the multitude must be miraculous.
And second, it’s not the numbers that matter with this miraculous feeding. It’s the way Jesus felt. In the CEB Jesus says, “I feel sorry for the crowd.” The Message reads, “I hurt for these people.” The NRSV and the NIV read, “I have compassion.” However we say it, Jesus cares about what is happening to us.
As we travel through these days of Covid-19, economic collapse, and political dissonance, I find it hopeful that God cares for and about us. We are truly walking through deep waters, and it’s encouraging to know that God is with us. We are precious, loved by God.
Let’s all be encouraged – filled with courage – as we make our way through these days with each other and with God. Amen
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets,
but in these last days, God has spoken to us by the Son.
For the peace from above, and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For the health of creation, for abundant harvests that all may share, for plentiful water, and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For essential workers, public servants, the government, and those who protect us; for those who work to bring peace, justice, healing, and protection in this and every place, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For those who travel, for those who are sick and suffering, for those who are in captivity, and for those who are living in isolation, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For deliverance in the time of affliction, wrath, danger and need, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
Other prayer petitions may be offered here.
O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go forth with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only trusting that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory, are yours now and forever. Amen.
HYMN: Great Is Thy Faithfulness, ELW 733
YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTKIqmdfHSk
Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, + keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen
Liturgy from ELW Annual Liturgy License 26504